Friday, January 11, 2013

Video Del Fuego, Part LVIII

Last time, I mentioned the progress SpaceX had made, not only in the first private spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station, but in their drive to become the first private company to fly astronauts to and from Earth orbit. All that said, the Falcon 9 is still an expendable rocket, meaning that they have to drop the spent stages into the ocean when they're finished with them. That's changing, though; Elon Musk's goal is for the Falcon 9 to become fully reusable.

They're getting a little closer to that goal.

This rig is a prototype for what will eventually become a fully reusable Falcon 9 first stage. After that, they intend to make the second stage reusable as well.

The importance of this is hard to over-estimate. Space travel is expensive only because it's so expensive to reach low Earth orbit. In terms of energy, once you're in Earth orbit, you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System. If we can make that leg of the trip fairly economical, there's no limit to what we can do.

Besides, that looks like one hell of a ride.

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